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© John Pyle/ZUMA Press/Corbis
In compiling his list of 10 essential guitar albums, master axeman Steve Lukather admits that he didn't quite know where to start – not for lack of worthy choices but because of an embarrassment of riches. "There's a staggering amount of amazing guitar music out there," he says. "Picking just 10 records is almost impossible. Going through an encyclopedia might be easier."
And then there's his criteria: Lukather emphasizes that a truly essential guitar album is a collective whole and not simply a showcase for technical skill. "I don't just listen to the guitar," he says. "It's all about the compositions. A great solo does not make a great piece. Rather, a great solo in a great song, that's what makes a 10 out of 10. It's the combination of emotional feel and inventive ideas. These days, uber-fast chops are as impressive as a Twinkie to a top chef."
Even so, certain licks did impress, and during his early years as a player, "when dinosaurs walked the earth," Lukather recalls his pre-YouTube/pre-instructional video guitar training involving vinyl and that painstaking ritual of lifting the needle up and putting it down over and over again. "It was exhausting," he says. "But when I did figure something out, it was an awesome feeling of accomplishment."
Before ranking his essentials, Lukather stresses that the list is changeable – and in this case, it's representative of his thoughts on Saturday, 27 October. "There's so many players that I love and admire," he says. "Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Mike Landau, Robben Ford, Lee Ritenour, Jay Graydon, John Scofield, Warren Haynes – the list goes on and on."